Alternative Visions – Trump’s DejaVu China Trade War -04.06.18

Dr. Rasmus assesses the past week’s Trump trade offensive, showing its ‘dual track’ focus: go soft on trade and tariffs for US allies (example the recent Korean trade deal and exemptions on steel-aluminum tariffs) while playing ‘hardball’ with China trade. The steel and Korean deals are summarized. Rasmus argues this phony trade ‘track’ is for domestic political consumption for Trump’s base as November elections in the US approach and as Trump prepares to fire investigator Mueller. Trump is using trade to agitate and mobilize his domestic base on nationalist appeals once again. Rasmus argues the second, ‘hard’ track of China trade is about stemming US technology transfer to China that is militarily sensitive, especially AI, G5, and cyber security tech. That’s Trump’s No. 1 objective, for which he’ll trade tariffs on other China imports to the US. The Trump trade offensive is then discussed in historical perspective, comparing it to Nixon’s 1971-73 attack on Europe corporate competitors and Reagan’s 1985 attack on Japan. Why the US periodically engages in rewriting the trade ‘rules of the game’ to ensure US business interests are protected. The Trump trade offensive in relation to recent Trump taxes, deficits, and central bank interest rate hiking underway. Trade as the third policy initiative of Trump’s effort to re-establish a neoliberalism 2.0 policy regime.

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